‘Qutub Minar not a place of worship’: ASI opposes plea seeking restoration of 27 temples

As per ASI, it will be contrary to the provisions of the AMASR Act, 1958 to agree to the contention of any person claiming a fundamental right to worship in this centrally protected monument.

As per ASI, it will be contrary to the provisions of the AMASR Act, 1958 to agree to the contention of any person claiming a fundamental right to worship in this centrally protected monument.

Opposing a plea seeking restoration of 27 Hindu and Jain temples inside the Qutub Minar complex, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Tuesday said that the monument is not a place of worship and alteration of the existing structure is not permissible. 

“The revival of worship cannot be allowed at a monument where such a practice was not prevalent at the time of it being granted the “protected” status,” the ASI said.

While admitting that there a number of sculptures existing within the complex, the ASI stated that since 1914, Qutub Minar is a protected monument under Section 3(3) of the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 and it is being maintained ‘in-situ’ is the same condition, reported Live Law. 

Further, there is no provision under AMASR Act 1958 under which Worship can be started at any living monument.

As per ASI, it will be contrary to the provisions of the AMASR Act, 1958 to agree to the contention of any person claiming a fundamental right to worship in this centrally protected monument.

“The intention of the statute is clear that the monument should be protected and preserved in it original condition for the posterity. Therefore, changing and alteration of the existing structure would be clear violation of the AMASR Act, 1958 and thus should not be allowed,” it said. 

“Fundamental right cannot be allowed in violation of any status of the land. The basic principle of protection/conservation is not to allow starting of any practice in a monument declared and notified as a protected one under the Act. Revival of worship is not allowed wherever it is not practiced at the time of protection of a monument,” Live Law quoted the ASI as saying. 

The plea filed on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar Lord Rishabh Dev, filed through next friend Hari Shankar Jain, alleged that the Quwwat-Ul-Islam Masjid situated within the Qutub Minar Complex in Mehrauli was built in place of a temple complex thereby seeking restoration of the temple complex comprising of as many as 27 temples. 

A controversy erupted after ASI’s ex-regional director Dharamveer Sharma claimed that the Qutub Minar was constructed by was actually a “sun tower” built by Chandragupta Vikramaditya of the Gupta Empire in the 5th Century, and not Qutubuddin Aibak in the 12th Century. 

On Sunday, Union Culture Minister G K Reddy clarified that no directions have been issued by the government for excavation at the Qutub Minar complex in Delhi. 

Culture Secretary Govind Mohan’s visit to the monument on Saturday sparked rumours that the ASI has been asked to conduct excavations to ascertain whether the UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by Qutubuddin Aibak in the 12th Century or by the Gupta Empire much earlier. 

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